Branding Yourself and the Timeless Business Card

Yes, our world (the print world) is changing at an incredible pace. In communications, changing from analog to digital is as big a shift as when Gutenberg developed movable type & the printing press…..it’s changed the way we communicate, the way we get information and the way we give out information. But through all this change, there is one little (but important) communication utility that has not changed, and if you are in business, chances are you still use it very frequently…..and that’s your Business Card. On sales calls, in networking events, or just meetings between 2 business people there is always the traditional exchange of business cards.

So I see a lot of business cards, I’ve seen good ones, I’ve seen bad ones and I’ve seen everything in between. The one thing that never ceases to amaze me though, is how many people will accept their business card looking plain, goofy or just all around not very good. Most people in business or sales are proud of their business, their product or their service, and they want to project a strong image. But yet when they are networking, selling and handing out cards, they are willing to settle for something that does not in anyway stand out or represent their brand the way it should be represented….the word “bland” comes to mind. Your Business Card does so much for you, and at the very front of those duties is the job of leaving a (hopefully good) first impression. And in the world today, leaving that positive first impression and positive brand representation could be the difference between a future sale and a future blow off.

I’m good at picking on people for having bad business cards , but what are the elements that I believe make  a great card?  I would say design is big. Yes, you could spend a lot of money designing (or over designing) a business card, but I don’t think you always have to go there. Many people/companies already have a brand in place, and sometimes it’s just a case of maintaining that brand. Sometimes it’s just common sense, keep it balanced, if it looks bad in the design phase, it will probably look bad in the finished phase. There are plenty of avenues to end up with a good design is all I’m saying.

Next are some of the more technical and print related issues. I like a heavy stock for a biz card, unless it’s a special situation like a translucent or other substrate, but for general purpose, the heavier, the better…it just holds up. Other elements…does the card tell somebody what you do, does it represent you the way you want to be remembered once you leave and all your prospect has is your card? Will a fold over help (give you more room) to list those services? I’ve seen people making square cards (2″ x 2″) or smaller name cards…different sizes can get noticed (the 1.5″ x 3.5″ format is always good).

Here’s the bottom line, your business card is one of the most important pieces of printed marketing material  you have, especially the one that your prospects will touch and feel (and hopefully keep). It just does not make sense to lose the initial impact a good business card can have to save a couple of bucks….I’m thinking nobody ever went out of business because they paid to have nice business cards made.

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